Scaling up use of livestock technologies in Mali—progress of a Feed the Future program

The Feed the Future Mali Livestock Technology Scaling Program is a three-year initiative (2016–2019) promoting inclusive growth of all the actors involved in adding value to the production and marketing of ruminant livestock in this large, and largely livestock-dependent, West African country. The program aims to increase the incomes and food and nutritional security of 266,000 people who keep cattle, sheep and goats, as well as  other actors in this value chain in three regions of southern and central Mali: Sikasso, Mopti and Timbuktu. Supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of the US government’s Feed the Future initiative, this livestock program is helping to close productivity gaps in Mali’s ruminant production systems, enhancing both the volume and the value of these animals when marketed in the country.

The program’s most recent report describes some successes and swift progress made in recent months towards achieving these goals as well as some new challenges the program is facing.

The first half of 2017 saw the completion of a series of training courses on:

  • Current livestock vaccination campaigns, which offered suggestions on more participatory approaches to take
  • Livestock fodder production and use
  • Training trainers on growing Brachiaria fodder grass
  • Training trainers on use of integrated packages to manage livestock fattening operations, raise small ruminants, maintain and manage work oxen and feed lactating cows
  • Training data collectors on techniques to use in collecting information on livestock markets
  • Techniques used to establish feed grinding units and to produce multi-nutrient blocks using the feed grinders

In addition:

  • Workshop participants helped to finalize the design of a monitoring and evaluation framework for the program
  • The program delivered three batches of a thermostable vaccine against peste des petits ruminants, an infectious disease commonly known as goat plague, for a total of nearly one million doses
  • A total of 80.000 cattle, sheep and goats were vaccinated against peste des petits ruminants, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia and pasteurellosis
  • Two program partners—Catholic Relief Services and Association Malienne d’éveil au Développement Durable—identified potential producers of seed for growing dual-purpose sorghum, cowpea and groundnut crops that will feed ruminants as well as people, and for growing Brachiaria fodder grass
  • Jointly with Finance for Food Security and Women Entrepreneurs, the program organized a June workshop to enhance links between livestock producers and decentralized financial systems and banks attended by more than 200 livestock producers, representatives of livestock producer organizations, non-governmental partner organizations, decentralized financial systems and banks from communities in Bamako, Sikasso, Koutiala, Bougouni and Yanfolila
  • Innovation platforms were established to bring together fodder producers, livestock keepers, livestock fatteners, butchers, livestock traders and veterinary service providers

The program also proceeded with the recruitment of a communication officer and a field officer.

Radio marketing
A main partner in this program, the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (Comité permanent inter-États pour la lutte contre la sécheresse au Sahel [CILSS]), has been developing a new data collection method that will enable additional market indicators to be monitored, such as the number of animals sold, the number exported, animal weight, how accessible are inputs for the livestock producers, supplies and prices of milk, prices of meat, and the prices and quantities of hides and skins sold.

Animal prices are being disseminated through radios stations, with market enumerators and community radio producers and broadcasters working together to disseminate livestock market information every week. In just the past three months, some 160 announcements have been broadcast in local languages on private or community radio stations to livestock producers and livestock market agents.

From the end users
The Feed the Future progress report on the Mali livestock program features three stories from three of the program’s participants.

Efad Mohamedoun is a 55-year-old chief of Assana, a Tuareg camp 30 km from Timbuktu on the Timbuktu-Goundam-Bamako road. He also serves as president of the Tamzizayat association, which has been supported by this program to promote production of native bourgou grass (Echinochloa stagnina), an essential food for livestock in the Niger River’s inland delta region. This year, the Tamzizayat association has stored 3,000 bourgou bundles and sold 2,000 bundles at FCFA200 (USD0.35) per unit. This generated an income of FCFA400,000 (USD715), which was used to purchase 20 bags of feed concentrates to secure supplemental livestock feeding during the dry season. The balance of the money was used to care for family members and to pay school fees for three children, including two girls, in Timbuktu.

Oumou Dicko is a Fulani producer from the ‘circle’ of Djenné in Femaye commune, in Koumaga village, in the Mopti region of central Mali. She is a dairy farmer and sheep fattener. To increase her production and diversify her sources of income, she engaged in 2016 in fodder production. When fed the sweet sorghum fodder and grains harvested on farm, her cows produced twice their daily milk yield during the dry season (3–4 litres/day instead of 1–1.5 litres/day). The additional milk ensured that her children were not underfed/malnourished in the dry season. This better feeding also improved the reproductive performance of her cows and prevented deaths of her animals due to feed shortages in the dry season.

Fatié Sanogo is a small ruminant fattener from the village of Farakala, in the Sikasso region of southern Mali. In 2016 and 2017, he benefited from forage seeds and practical advice provided by this Feed the Future livestock program. During the 2017 campaign, he fattened and sold 60 cattle in 3 rotations between January and June. After two months of fattening, he made an average profit (per animal) of FCFA50,000 (USD90), which represents a third of his costs, for a total profit of FCFA3,000,000 (USD5,375). The income he generated from this activity allowed him to meet the needs of his family, improve his production capacities and obtain a CFA2,500,000 (USD4,475) loan from a micro-finance institute in June to expand his production capacity.

Challenges ahead
Despite the encouraging progress and successes described above, new challenges have also emerged this year that require the close attention of the program in the coming months.

The fragile security situation in the areas of intervention is a major obstacle in reaching out to some target communes.

The lack of resources for meeting support costs means that innovation platforms and farmer field schools find it difficult to finance their action plans and to mobilize their members. Program team meetings were organized with the innovation platforms to find ways to generate resources through the platforms and to source funding for platform and farmer field school meetings. Some power struggles also emerged among innovation platforms and the leaders of communes and cooperatives. Consultative meetings clarified the expected roles and responsibilities of each partner and agreements were reached on ways to manage innovation platforms.

Attempts to link cattle fatteners with Laham Slaughterhouses are facing various problems: disagreement on the price of 1,000/kg of liveweight, use of liveweight as a basis for sales, payment procedures (on the spot or otherwise) and general rejection by traditional livestock keepers of the new system to ensure their own broker operations are sustained. Consultations are under way to reach consensus on these issues.

Finally, although ensuring gender equity is stated to be an important element of this livestock program, to date the gender focus seems to be restricted to ensuring that a number of women participate in the program’s training courses, innovation platforms and other activities, with little regard for promoting women’s decision-making and other aspects of women’s empowerment. A gender strategy is in the making and should help address this issue in future.

Read a brochure about the Feed the Future Mali Livestock Technology Scaling Program.
Read the latest quarterly progress report (Apr–Jun 2017) on this program.
Read more from the Feed the Future Mali Livestock Technology Scaling Program.

For more information, contact Abdou Fall, program manager, ILRI,